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 Vandria Gilmadrith

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Archwizard Posted - 24 Apr 2006 : 10:17:26
Vandria Gilmadrith is quite the oddity as presented in Races of the Wild. She seems an incompatible fit for the Realms, I am not even sure if she fits in with the elven pantheon of Greyhawk. Many have expressed their thoughts against her, feeling she is unoriginal, being little more than a coarse attempt at making an elven deity capable of giving patronage to elven paladins, now technically possible under the 3e rules.

Her purpose is somewhat contradictory and incoherent appearing to be a mix of Corellon, Sehanine, Helm, Tyr, and the Red Knight. That leads to another grievance against her, that she is too much like a human goddess, her psychology and reactions being not elven enough. Her portfolio also overlaps a lot with her superiors. Then there is her history where she loses major points in terms of blending in with existing Realmslore. RotW states she is the daughter of Corellon and Araushnee, pre-expulsion, which presents the biggest problem, since it is generally noted that Araushnee bore Corellon a set of twins (Elistraee and Vhaeraun) before her exile and descent. It seems difficult to fit in another child into already extensive lore.

It is easy to understand why many people don't seem to like her. I think it has a lot to do with perception that she is practically an elven paladin goddess, and a rather Helm-ish one at that, all the more for supporters of Faerunian elves to dislike her. While nothing about her strikes me as particularly enthralling, I do find her interesting, call it rooting for the underdog or a soft spot for sorrowful elfmaidens. This switched me on to Realmsification mode and here I am starting to brainstorm. I do this here in Candlekeep rather than on the WotC FR boards because there are some very passionate elf fans over there and the thread may get easily side-tracked. I also find the atmosphere at Candlekeep to be more constructive, so thus I throw my ramblings here.

Though how do we fix Vandria? I think some have suggested that she could be an elven aspect of the Red Knight. I don't feel that quite works. Even though there are similarities, there are still significant differences. Also, that leads to an equally difficult time explaining how the Red Knight made her way into the Seldarine. Mielikki is a very sylvan goddess with a long history of cooperation with the Seldarine, which explains why she may be somewhat accepted as a half-elven goddess. So let's see what we have to work with: daughter of Corellon and Araushnee, silver hair and gray winged goddess of guardianship and other related defensive interests.

After examining sources on the Seldarine across editions (though by no means exhaustive) my head was teeming with ideas and I only have it in a rough outline format with tons of holes in my musings. Generally I tried to keep it somewhat similar to the original concept presented in RotW.

My apologies to the elf fanatics for the possible butchering of elven lore, though I will enjoy your screams of horrified agony.

I saw little reason to not go with the Corellon & Araushnee history, but how to explain it and the distinctive wings as well. The main point was to make Vandria technically a child of the two but not through a standard direct birth. Luckily we are speaking of two deities, so possibilities are open. This is one of the biggest obstacles and I am still unsure of what exactly to do, though here are my thoughts on the matter. Much of my concept also involves Aerdrie Faenya as a surrogate mother.

The conflict between Corellon and Araushnee/Lolth as well as their allies, the Seldarine/Anti-Seldarine, provides an environment rich in potential viciousness. From the sourcebooks I get the sense that towards the time of her Fall, Araushnee had already developed a strong thirst for power and at the point of corruption where she stood well within the darkness. How could she strike at Corellon (generally nice guy)? Hold his unborn child hostage and probably secretly siphon divine power from the developing god-child to increase/replenish your own. Then another being steps in to save the child, here is where the wings come in. Say someone like Aerdrie Faenya, swooped in to save the unborn Vandria. It does not even have to be a goddess, anything winged would do, a powerful Avariel or more likely a celestial of some kind. Somehow, the winged savior comes in and magically transfers the unborn child to herself (the savior would have to be more or less female). Due to the final development within a being with innate wings, the child is transformed as well and is born with wings. The child is born before the final decree that declares the fall, she is given the choice between the sides and decides to go with the Seldarine.

Alternatively, the child could be the product of Corellon and Aerdrie, or a celestial lover, or a mortal Avariel. Jealous of her waning place in Corellon's heart, Araushnee snatches the child out of the womb and attempts to corrupt the unborn deity. The child is born from Araushnee but chooses to fight against the Anti-Seldarine, thus the roles are decided. Both are possibilities and I think they better explain why the child is of Corellon and Araushnee yet not, and why this is rarely mentioned since it was a rather unpleasant event.

Another possibility that requires a few more steps is inspired by talk of the Dawn Cataclysm with the temporal perception and powers of deities, and Neil Gaiman's 1602 with the time/universe altering presented there. In reality altering fashion this will be convoluted. The Sundering spread backwards and forward through time, such was the power of that magic. The Sundering created Evermeet, an expression of a desire for a protected homeland for the elves. Vandria is an elven deity of guardianship and protection. What if in this version the unborn Vandria was drain of life and energy by Araushnee, who deposited the stillborn god-child in the astral plane. Then the magic of the Sundering reached the astral body of Vandria reviving it because she is involved in that expression and need for protection of elvenkind. Then someone like Aerdrie came along and took the revived spark of divinity as her own nurturing it into a full deity, finally adding her influence with the wings.

Vandria's role in the Seldarine seems to already be covered by a number of other deities, war and battle skill under Corellon, grief by Sehanine, and protection by Mythrien Sarath, demipower of mythals, protection, and abjuration (Dragon #251). She is also an intermediate power. Immediately I think that should change, she should be no more than a demipower, or at the most a very recent lesser deity. I propose a slightly refined version which includes guardianship and less importantly skills in combat (strategy, tactics), but also perhaps the concept of strategy and tactics not through standard military means but less directly through unity and cooperation amongst elves and between the subraces, even with friendly non-elves (daring gal no?). Then drop the grief aspect entirely, Sehanine's portfolio covers that as much as any elf goddess should, I think. She should embody less so contracts but agreements (oaths, vows, promises), elves never forget. Also perhaps work in the reclamation of elven lands and recovery of elven artifacts, these latter portfolios inspired by the recent resurgence of elves. One meta-game reason why we might have heard of her only in 3e is because of a boost she received in taking up this recent cause. Vandria could be a more vigorous and proactive goddess, due to her relatively young age. Here she can possess that spark of ambition and audacity inherited from Araushnee, but channeled not to the ruthless desire for power but the unwavering pursuit of noble goals. Patronage of elven knights (no paladins) seems like a good choice.

For the role of the protector, she directly conflicts with Mythrien, and I say that is perhaps for the best. She could start to intrude upon Mythrien's domain, even though her portfolio seems more about physical and martial protection, it is similar enough to mythal protection and abjuration that Mythrien could be uneasy. It is the contact between the older generation of Mythrien and the newer generation of Vandria. This coupled with her infamous heritage could cause some concern amongst the Seldarine. Her eagerness to help, defend and unite could so possibly be corrupted into something akin to the goals of the Vyshaan elves. Here perhaps we can get a glimpse of her strongly gold elf outlook, head strong for an elf, fairly set in her ways with confidence that at times borders on haughtiness. Part of her portfolio could be vigilance against corruption from within as well as from external sources.

Vandria's favored weapon is listed as the longbow. This makes some sense; the bow is the premier weapon of elven warriors and holds many tactical advantages on the battlefield. However, many elven deities already use the bow and if Vandria is supposed to be as close to an elven paladin as possible a sword seems more fitting. I am aware that the RotW presents paladin substitution levels for elves which involved archery. Then I take a look at her holy symbol and I think a shield, which is fitting for a protector. What about a bastard sword as the favored weapon used in combination with the shield. It is a mechanically sound concept. Defense from the shield, relatively maximized offense with the bastard sword, quite capable of being adaptable for two-handed use or dual wielding, very functional. It is essentially an arming sword (I think that is the right term), a fairly knightly weapon. The bastard sword is also the favored weapon of Elistraee. Vandria's training and interest in that weapon could stem from some sort of contact or understanding with Elistraee. This could be the active diplomacy and reaching out that is mentioned in Vandria's write up.

So there you have it, my thoughts on how to reconcile Vandria into the Realms. These are just some initial ideas that came to mind. I would like to work this out into an eventual write up for my own use and for fun. I welcome any opinions, suggestions and criticisms as long as they are constructive. Looking forward to everyoneís feedback.
16   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
TBeholder Posted - 16 Sep 2021 : 13:15:15
Huh. Did she appear anywhere before Races of the Wild?

My attempt:
The wings are an interesting detail here.
At the first sight, it doesn't make sense for a daughter of Corellon and Araushnee to appear as a winged elf.
At the second... it can make a perfect sense.
The same way as Gond is sometimes depicted as a gnome and Tymora as a halfling. If she had the Avariel as majority of worshipers for a long while (like the last few millennia), depictions could drift to her Avariel avatars...
And why not?
Both as a daughter of Araushnee and after making a sharp turn herself she could have been... de-emphasized and fall into obscurity among the "vanilla"/"barbarian" elves.
But the Avariel won't care: they don't exactly look up at that bunch, tend to live away from them and don't venerate the Seldarine the same way. If she's cool as far as the Winged Mother is concerned, she's cool as far as they are concerned, that's all.
Also they have that tradition of dual society, but the Winged Mother is not a war-goddess. So, among the "warrior" Avariel after a while Vandria Gilmadrith easily could become the second most worshiped deity after Aerdrie Faenya herself. With lesser, but substantial veneration from the "scholar" Avariel, due to the non-militant parts of her portfolio.
Among the more boring elves... well, they look up at the Avariel enough that it's plausible Aerdrie Faenya was "imported" from them rather than being originally among the Seldarine.
This could help keeping her remembered, if not part of mainstream, as mostly redundant and not their style.
Maybe also some drow worshipers who don't follow the Way of Lolth, but don't care for deities at war with her either.
The Sage Posted - 26 Apr 2006 : 07:13:42
Originally posted by Kuje

Originally posted by KnightErrantJR

Archwizard, I am glad that you brought up those other elven god though, as I had forgotten about those Dragon articles. I wonder if they have been mentioned ANYWHERE other than Dragon?

In all my research about the deities, that is the only place I've seen references to those expanded Seldarine deities, so I'm going to say no. :)

Hmm... Maybe I should include them in some articles sometime. :)

Yes, I'd have to agree. Aside from these Seldarine deities being used in fan-based (and a few PS planar legends crafted by other adherents of the PLANESCAPE setting) work-ups, I've not seem them exclusively mentioned elsewhere.

Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis, on the boards, once hypothesised what Krynnish-specific interpretations of these deities might be like... but it was never anything "official" -- just mental meanderings.
Kuje Posted - 26 Apr 2006 : 06:23:44
Originally posted by KnightErrantJR

Archwizard, I am glad that you brought up those other elven god though, as I had forgotten about those Dragon articles. I wonder if they have been mentioned ANYWHERE other than Dragon?

In all my research about the deities, that is the only place I've seen references to those expanded Seldarine deities, so I'm going to say no. :)

Hmm... Maybe I should include them in some articles sometime. :)
Archwizard Posted - 26 Apr 2006 : 06:11:55
I'm glad I mentioned them. It took me months of reading the boards to learn of these other deities mentioned in Dragon. I don't they should be entirely neglected as I think they are some of the more interesting deities in any pantheon. Many of them portray the ancient roots of the elven race and culture in ways I don't think the powerful and relatively stable Seldarine mainstream can. I too wonder if they have made it into Realms canon outside of the Dragon articles. I would be interested to read more about them.
KnightErrantJR Posted - 25 Apr 2006 : 22:27:47
Archwizard, I am glad that you brought up those other elven god though, as I had forgotten about those Dragon articles. I wonder if they have been mentioned ANYWHERE other than Dragon?
Archwizard Posted - 25 Apr 2006 : 22:26:48
Originally posted by KnightErrantJR

I would agree with this, but only point out, going to my previous post, that we had CN and CG elven gods, but no NG ones, which would have all fit in near the CG alignment average for elves.

Although dwarves have a pretty diverse range . . .

Ah yes, dwarves. They're an interesting lot, but it seems they have received far less attention than the ambitious human or the cunning elves who remain ever popular. It would be nice to see more of them other than some side mentions and the rare piece of significant info tossed at us through the sourcebooks and novels.
Archwizard Posted - 25 Apr 2006 : 22:23:46
Elven alignments are strange. High elves are listed as "Usually Chaotic Good" in the MM 3.5, Wood elves listed as "Usually Neutral." I think FR elves would conform to this for the most part (too lazy to hunt a reference down). It seems to indicate some tendency towards CG, but it is not difficult to find a good number in the population with different, though perhaps closely associated, alignments (CN or NG). Elves probably have more subraces than any other common playable race, but for the most part the subraces mechanically differ by a slight stat redistribution. It is just unfortunate that the NG elven deities are all minor ones and not given much mention outside of relatively obscure sources. They all seem well integrated with the Seldarine, but not seen or heard of since.

Though I agree with the sentiments here, a LN Intermediate Elven goddess of War, Justice, and Guardianship doesn't exactly jive with what has been established in Realmslore about elves. I'm willing to bet it's a stretch even for Greyhawk. I'm picturing a NG Demipower of Guardianship/Protectors and probably Cooperation/Unity. From that standpoint, justice, law, and order are still involved just in a far less heavy handed manner for the generally chaotic mindset of elves. A demigod whose worship is always subordinate to the greater powers of the pantheon.

On a related note, I'm considering giving Vandria patronage of Elven knights, unless that directly contradicts previous sources. I know Corellon is the patron of warriors, but that does not stop Tethrin from being patron of Bladesingers and Swordsmanship. I recall reading about Elven knights in the Evermeet and Cormanthor sourcebooks. It seems they would obviously be different from the typical human knight/paladin/cavalier archetype, but I can't recall much about them nor do I think the book went into great detail.
nbnmare Posted - 25 Apr 2006 : 20:27:49
Well, most instances of demi-humans varying from their race's typical alignment seem to be members of a sub-race with a different typical alignment than that of the greater race .
KnightErrantJR Posted - 25 Apr 2006 : 20:22:37
I would agree with this, but only point out, going to my previous post, that we had CN and CG elven gods, but no NG ones, which would have all fit in near the CG alignment average for elves.

Although dwarves have a pretty diverse range . . .
nbnmare Posted - 25 Apr 2006 : 20:19:39
Originally posted by Archwizard

Yes, it seems most of the demi-human pantheons are very conservative towards one alignment, which I don't think is all that realistic as demi-humans are just as varied as humans, though perhaps in different ways than human diversity.

Demi-humans *can* vary greatly in alignment, true, but it is far less common than it is with humans; so much so that there is no "typical" alignment for humans as there is for the demi-human races. This fact plays an important part in why certain demi-humans (especially elves) hold a dim view of the human race.

EDIT: In fact, I would go so far as to say that a group of LG elves may well be viewed with some distaste or distrust by many CG aligned elves. They might come to the conclusion that such wayward brethren have been corrupted by dwarvish or human philosophies.
Archwizard Posted - 25 Apr 2006 : 19:26:38
Yes, it seems most of the demi-human pantheons are very conservative towards one alignment, which I don't think is all that realistic as demi-humans are just as varied as humans, though perhaps in different ways than human diversity. Several of the minor deities detailed in Dragon are NG, but none of them seemed to have been mentioned in sources since.

Your suggestion of including an interloper origin for Vandria that has been modified by the believers in Faerun is intriguing. It might help explain a few things. In this way the birth origin can remain blurry and disputed. I like that, hadn't thought of that before. I'll have something to think about in class now.

Thank you for the suggestion, KnightErrantJR.
KnightErrantJR Posted - 25 Apr 2006 : 16:29:56
I will admit I have always been somewhat surprised that the Seldarine is almost completely CG or CN. A single NG deity wouldn't shift things too much, but would put a lot of the paladin issue to rest. I've often thought that Sehenine wouldn't be a bad candidate for the NG treatment, but overall, its not a burning issue for me.

However, to work with what you want to do, you can always assume this. Any deity that gets enough followers in Toril, if their god wants to have any influence in Toril, will have to be accepted by Ao, at which point they more or less "split" apart and now have a separate aspect in the Realms. That aspect can then start to change from what their base form was, as they adapt to the Realms and their followers there. So if a follower of Vandria comes to the Realms, and gains some more followers, then eventually Vandria may have to decide if she wants an aspect in the Realms. At this point she will have to subject herself to Ao (and likely Corellon, if she wants to work with the Seldarine).

While it may not have actually happened, her followers in the Realms might easily start telling stories of her being Corellon's child, though there will also likely be stories of her being an elvish deity "From beyond" that Corellon adopted. Not unlike how some followers of Mielikki consider her the daughter of Silvanus, even though she came from a different pantheon to begin with.

In the Realms, if most of Vandria's followers are LG, its entirely possible that she might end up leaning toward LG in alignment, since she is no longer exactly the Vandria that come from the other reality with her followers.

Archwizard Posted - 25 Apr 2006 : 08:35:53
This started out as a more specific response, but the quoting became far too complex to be sensible. Since several similar points were touched upon this is a general response to the comments presented.

Thanks everyone for the responses. I am pleased to hear that my thoughts are at least somewhat euphonious from your replies. While I found the original write up lacking, especially in the FR aspect, it may be useful for core players or Greyhawk fans. Yet I still felt Vandria was an interesting character, perhaps it was due to my pondering on her possible place in Faerun that made her more interesting than she was as presented and more so that others find her. True I may be doing a lot of extraneous work in trying to add a deity that is not needed or wanted, but I must reiterate I am doing this for my own amusement. Call it a fool's errand if you will. I certainly do not see Vandria becoming part of the Faerunian elven pantheon any time at all in any official capacity. This exercise is more of a fun "what if." As in if she was to be put into the Faerunian Seldarine, how best to go about it.

Any suggestion on which of the potential birth/origin stories seems more fitting?

The opinions expressed by posters here so far seem far more relaxed than on the WotC FR boards. Any mention of an elven paladin of a Seldarine deity is met with immediate fierce objections. Here several have noted a house rule that drops the one step alignment issue, the CG exception of Sunite paladins, and the alternative Paladin PrC offered in UA. All of these have been discussed before in previous discussions (on both boards I believe), and while I agree with all of them and they would save me a lot of trouble, that's not quite what this exercise is about. Also, not everyone drops the alignment rules, nor does everyone allow exceptions unless listed, nor does everyone use Unearthed Arcana - in fact I think more people would disallow the UA into their games than Vandria.

On that note, I don't think a LN alignment was a great choice for Vandria (or for any of the Seldarine for that matter - not without extraordinary reasons). LN is quite the polar opposite of the typical CG elven alignment, probably only LE is as alien and disdainful to the majority of elves. A more appropriate alignment might be NG (leaning towards LG), less chaotic than normal elves, but still flexible and close enough to be able to relate to their elven brethren. If anything, a paladin deity for elves would be LG before LN. That I think was one of Vandria's greatest flaws. NG is sufficient and more suitable.

Also my intentions were not so much to fit in a goddess purely for elven paladins but to remove her from that one-dimensional role and find a place for her in the pantheon. And I think there is a place for her. In that regard I also looked through elven deities presented in Dragon Magazine. I found that the most logical portfolios have been accounted for, Tethrin Veralde has Bladesingers and Swordsmanship and Mythrien Sarath has Protection and Abjuration. This is perhaps a boon in disguise. By coming into conflict over the portfolio of protection and perhaps abjuration with Mythrien (a god already severely weakened and perhaps my favorite of the minor elven deity presented in past lore), Vandria indirectly represents some of the flaws of elves, that they can be their own unintentional opponents and in trying to be helpful and promoting the cause of good they maybe inadvertently cause discord. While the image my not be perfectly applicable to elves, perhaps she is somewhat of a shield-maiden archetype. She is not to be the main warrior deity for the elves, but rather a support type, complementing the raw power, grace, and skill of Corellon or Tethrin with a calmer, slightly more orderly but just as cunning outlook. She is a guardian and a knight errant first, before she is a swordsman and warrior.

I also like the minor deities noted in other lore - like I said before I think Mythrien and his situation has tons of meaningful story potential - but I also find them to be sidelined in the official sourcebooks. Although these other deities certainly are older and in a Dragon article that is specifically FR oriented (251 is, 236 isn't as much), which nets them points because of their venerability, I do not see why there can't be considerations for new deities. It seems these deities were mentioned once or twice but for the most part not used often at all. If the new deities fit an interesting role, such as the reveler Alobal Lorfiril (?), then why not try to see if they are adaptable. We can always hope they will be given an update on F&P II or an Elves of Faerun book.

I also skimmed through the new Dwarven deities in Races of Stone and found them to be bland and severely overlapping with existing deities more so than the new elven deities of RotW. At least that is what I thought upon a quick glance.
Jindael Posted - 24 Apr 2006 : 17:57:13
You did a great job putting that together, Archwizard. I donít see anything that I would disagree with, or change.

However, I donít really see the need for a military/lawful elven deity. Iím much more content with the Paladin variants presented in the 3.X Unearthed Arcana. Having the option for a Chaotic Good Paladin removes the need for a Lawful elven deity. (Because, as you mentioned in your first post, she seems to be just a filler so that Elves can be paladins.)

Originally posted by KnightErrantJR

Definately well thought out and well reasoned, but I've a few thoughts on the subject of the gods from the Races series. To me, it did not look like these were "additions" to the lore that we have on the gods of various races, but that these were almost like brand new pantheons, usually only with the introduced "core" leader intact.

I agree with this; it almost seemed like the RotW folk wanted to introduce a new elven pantheon for Greyhawk, and let FR keep what it had. (Which is kinda funny when you think about it).

Originally posted by KnightErrantJR

I like your ideas, I am just loath to introduce any more gods when so many have gone unsupported that have been introduced specifically for the Realms.

Argh, I canít stand that. There is so much more that I would like to hear about existing godsÖAnd even still, Iím still trying to work out an interesting way to put the elven god of parties and such into the realms. Probably with a bang, so to speak.
Vainelus Posted - 24 Apr 2006 : 15:42:26
I think you put more thought into your post about how to introduce Vandria Gilmadrith into Realms, than the design team at Wotc did creating the deity.

There is a section of the FRC that explains Paladin orders in Faerun and allows Sune to have a Paladin order despite her alignment being CG. I would recommend designing a Paladin order for an elven deity that exists in Faerun already. That way you get to design how the order operates and you can custom design it to fit Elf Paladins in your campaign rather than dealing with Vandria Gilmadrith.
KnightErrantJR Posted - 24 Apr 2006 : 11:08:25
Definately well thought out and well reasoned, but I've a few thoughts on the subject of the gods from the Races series. To me, it did not look like these were "additions" to the lore that we have on the gods of various races, but that these were almost like brand new pantheons, usually only with the introduced "core" leader intact.

Part of the problem with needing to introduce such a god is the one step rule, which I essentially got rid of in my campaigns, in order to utilize the old 2nd edition "clergy" alignment section in the various deity books. Using this logic, since Corellon could have LG clergy, then paladins of Corellon would be possible (and would make the most sense to me, given the portfolios of the gods of the Seldarine).

I like your ideas, I am just loath to introduce any more gods when so many have gone unsupported that have been introduced specifically for the Realms.

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